Sanofi to restructure its Onduo, Verily partnership alongside diabetes exit

Sanofi
Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson said the company “over-invested” in Onduo in the past. It will stay a financial backer but won’t be involved in its operations going forward. Meanwhile, Onduo itself says it plans to expand beyond diabetes as well, and into other chronic conditions. (Sanofi)

As its new CEO begins to move Sanofi away from new diabetes research, the drugmaker—and producer of one of the world’s top-selling insulins—will also look to pull back from its three-year-old relationship with Verily and their virtual diabetes clinic, Onduo.

The restructuring comes shortly after the joint venture celebrated the completion of its expansion across the continental U.S., announcing that it now offers counseling services in 49 states. In addition, Onduo recently published a promising real-world evidence study showing gains in glucose control among type 2 diabetes patients with high blood sugar.

The virtual diabetes venture was first launched in September 2016 with nearly $500 million in equal investments from the French Big Pharma and Google’s life science-focused sister company Verily. 

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Now, newly installed chief Paul Hudson aims to refocus the company on its strongest products in immunology and vaccines, while discontinuing its R&D programs in diabetes and cardiovascular diseases following struggling sales. All in all, the drugmaker hopes to save €2 billion, or $2.2 billion U.S., by 2022.

RELATED: Sanofi CEO Hudson backs away from struggling diabetes, cardiovascular areas in strategy unveiling

In a capital markets day presentation to pitch its new strategy, Sanofi said it would direct its cashflow from diabetes and cardiovascular treatments to already mature markets. It would also halt the planned launch of efpeglenatide, a GLP-1 injection for Type 2 diabetes, and instead seek a partner to take over its commercialization.

Regarding Onduo, Hudson said the company “over-invested” in the project in the past. Sanofi will stay on as a financial backer, but won’t be involved in its ongoing operations, according to reports.

RELATED: Sanofi, Verily and Sensile to build all-in-one insulin patch pump

In a statement to FierceMedTech, a Verily spokesperson said that—while both Sanofi and Verily remain jointly committed to Onduo and its services for people with Type 2 diabetes—the virtual clinic is also pursuing plans to expand its mobile health offerings outside of diabetes to other chronic conditions.

And whether this restructuring means more independence for Onduo remains to be seen. In late November, the virtual clinic amended its collaboration and license agreement with diabetes hardware maker Dexcom, making it the venture’s preferred supplier of continuous glucose monitoring devices for its Type 2 diabetes program.

In return, Dexcom inked a $250 million upfront payment in shares of common stock, and signed on to additional payments of $280 million linked to future product launches and sales milestones. In addition, Dexcom and Verily expanded their collaboration options for new products and software, including programs for Dexcom’s CGM systems. 

Onduo’s smartphone-based clinic officially launched in early 2018, which aims to connect patients with its own network of board-certified endocrinologists to guide lifestyle and medication changes and track potential long-term complications of diabetes.

Last week, Onduo published real-world data gathered from 740 of its participants, showing that 92% of those with the highest starting HbA1c saw decreases of 2.3 percentage points through the telehealth program—from an average of 10.7% down to 8.3%. 

The data was taken from users from 21 U.S. states, with 30% living in rural communities. Nearly half of the participants were remotely prescribed and shipped CGMs during the study, according to Onduo. The results were published in the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology.

Editor's note: This story was updated with a statement from Verily.

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